Ancient Egyptians stocked tombs with clothing, furniture and even mummified food to ensure continued comfort and happiness after death.
Several tombs contain pieces of mummified meat, wrapped in bandages and covered in balm. High status Egyptians had themselves interred with furniture, jewelry and even mummified pets.
Richard Evershed of the University of Bristol and colleagues chemically analysed the balms on some of these mummified meats.
Researchers believe the Egyptians used the balms for preservation and flavour enhancement, 'Phys.org' reported.
The most luxurious coating was on bandages covering mummified beef ribs, dated between 1386 and 1349 BC, found in the tomb of Yuya and Tjuiu, the parents of Queen Tiye, the wife of Pharaoh Amenhotep III.
Scientists have found hundreds of meat mummies in ancient Egyptian tombs. Most of them are joints of meat or poultry, prepared as if for eating, then wrapped.
Dark residue that covers the bandages appears organic balms applied to human and animal mummies.
Scientists used gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to analyse four pieces of mummified meat stored at different museums.
Researchers found that the composition of the balms varied over time and believe the ancient Egyptians deliberately added them.
External bandages from a victual calf mummy, dated from 1064 to 948 BC, in the tomb of Isetemkheb, the wife of a high priest, contained compounds made from animal fat.
Since these compounds had no contact with the meat, the researchers think they were not grease from the meat, but a balm applied deliberately as a preservative.
The study appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.